Fast food chains are leaning hard into plant-based eating, from the recently announced McDonald’s McPlant to ongoing vegan-friendly menu development at Starbucks. And while plant-based diets are generally linked to a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes (and, y’know, a healthier planet), a recent Outside article explains that individual plant-based fast food items like the McPlant aren’t necessarily healthier than their meaty counterparts.
Outside reports that both Beyond and Impossible burgers contain 20 grams of protein per four ounces, almost exactly as much as four ounces of 85% ground beef. That’s good news—but it’s not all sunshine and daisies on the plant-based meat scene. Impossible beef contains the same amount of saturated fat as 85 percent lean ground beef—eight grams per four ounces—while a serving of Beyond beef contains five grams. Doesn’t matter if it comes from plants or animals: too much saturated fat is bad news. Outside also reports that plant-based meat also tends to be higher in sodium than regular meat, with the Impossible Whopper packing about 10% more sodium than a classic Whopper.
Here’s the deal: in terms of environmental friendliness, plant-based foods are the better choice, with vegan diets creating significantly smaller carbon footprints than traditional meaty diets. Plant-based fast food options make it way easier to eliminate meat from your diet, especially if you’re opting for fast food on the regular. Just keep in mind that plant-based fast food is still fast food, so you should probably supplement it with a carrot here and there.